Earlier this year I was asked by artist Dan Thompson of Revolutionary Arts Group and www.artistsandmakers.com to create new work inspired by Worthing Pier for the tremendous Worthing Pier Day and the Made in Worthing Festival.
I recommend a visit to Worthing Pier, its not the longest or the oldest but in its fabulous streamlined charm it has all the hope of the future. When the wind blows you feel it might break loose and sail off, past the kite surfers, windsurfers and yachts, beyond the lifeboat men and fishing boats and way on out over the misty horizon and over the high seas.
I think Dan just wanted a couple of drawings but after getting the chance to explore the Pier and get to know it better I got carried away by the stories I discovered and set out to make a new series of works on paper and an animation. I’m interested in our relationship to water and how it is changing;- the life above and below the pier, in and out of the water, the characters of seaside entertainment, the ghosts of past fishermen, sailors and boatmen, all the tall tales of the sea, the lore of tides and weather, the survival of coastal communities and the feat of the engineering of the pier.
I made some visits to the Pier to explore it above and below, at low tide and high tide, walking, swimming, in a kayak… I thought very much about the icon of the pier and its visibility all along the coast. I found so many intertwined stories of lives lived, and lives imagined around the pier and decided to make a series of 100 views of the pier, partly inspired by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi‘s legendary 100 Views of the Moon published in 1885. The views incorporated characters from legends as well as real life.
Around 40 of my 100 Views of the Pier were installed temporarily on the Pier in September for Pier Day and the festival the remaining ones will eventually be published via Bookleteer.com and launched alongside a short film I’m working on of my explorations above and below deck.
Alice has been invited by Revolutionary Arts in Worthing to create a new series of works inspired by Worthing Pier for Worthing Pier Day on the 12 Sept 2010 and the Made in Worthing Festival 17 – 19 Sept 2010. This is currently involving her in blustery days filming from a kayak, drawing on and under the pier, talking to people on the pier, wading on the beach, falling over the groynes and tripping over the shingle and researching history in an effort to understand the allure (and engineering) of the pier, the seaside and this particular aspect of the British seafaring relationship to water. The project links to Alice’s ongoing body of work At The Waters Edge, about our human relationship to water, land and traditional knowledge of water.
I have just sent off some new works on paper, that are the first part of my project In Good Heart, off to Confederation Centre Gallery in Prince Edward Island, Canda for the show Dig Up My Heart: Artistic Practice in the Field curated by Shauna McCabe which opens on Saturday till September 22. The show; brings together a group of practitioners who start from the same impulse – a visceral connection to the land and to place, and the transformative potential of that attachment in response to issues of landscape change…
In 2009 I was invited by our partners Dodolab to visit the Charlottetown Experimental Farm on Prince Edward island and spend some time researching its history, exploring the site and the island. The Charlottetown farm was one of a network of Experimental Farms created in the 1880′s to research and improve farming methods and production, the network hub was the Central Experimental farm in Ottowa.
The visit to PEI which triggered many questions about farming and the factors that impact on this most ancient of skills. The works bring together several strands of research, conversations, interviews, historical and folklore research to explore the perception of “Farm”, its origins, what it means to people now and the way in which the disappearance of traditional skills and distance from the sources of our food serve to disconnect people from their link with land and nature. It is part of my ongoing series, At The Waters Edge looking at peoples local and personal relationship to land and environment.
There will be a publication with the series of works and stories published in June. You can see the works on flickr.
I am grateful to all at Dodolab, Confederation Centre and the Public Archives and Records Office for helping with my research. A huge thanks to the people who kindly sent me their thoughts on the word “farm” and I would like to thank; Andrew, Angela, Adriana, Barb, Chick, Deborah, Danny, Dan, Frank, Gillian, Joyce, Joe, Kei, Mervin, Niharika, Tarin and Sarah. This work was commissioned by Dodolab who invited me to PEI in 2009 as part of an ongoing partnership with Proboscis.
At The Waters Edge: Grand River Sketches
As part of Proboscis ongoing creative research partnership with Waterloo, Canada based RENDER, Alice was commissioned to develop a new work specifically for the atrium of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture in Cambridge. Combining new media and traditional methods, the project reflects the Proboscis strategy of engaging the social, cultural and natural histories of specific sites and territories. Alice brought interest in rivers as life-lines, connectors and definers of place that has grown out of her long term work on Topographies and Tales.
For this project she, and RENDER Director and artist Andrew Hunter, explored the Grand River from its mouth at Port Maitland on Lake Erie to Elora. By bicycle, car, foot and kayak, they wandered through and around the numerous cities, towns, villages, communities, farm fields and industrial sites the river penetrates, defines and skirts, making focussed stops along the way at Chiefswood National Historic Site, Paris, Galt and Kitchener. Alice’s inquiries have also taken her to libraries, museums and archives and into conversations with numerous individuals whose lives have been touched by the river. The resulting work is a personal and poetic reflection on a significant body of water whose role as a critical thread through the region is often forgotten or obscured by more recent grids of development, pathways of transportation and community boundaries. As with her other work At The Waters Edge: Grand River Sketches maps a dialogue between the artist and place emphasizing a process of inquiry.
At the heart of RENDER’s ongoing collaboration with Proboscis is creative research grounded in local history and the built environment. Past collaborative projects have included Anarchaeology and The Accidental Menagerie. At the Water’s Edge will be further developed into a publication and Proboscis will play a central role in RENDER’s upcoming GROUNDWORK community garden project at rare.
Proboscis and RENDER would like to thank Robert McNair (UW School of Architecture), Paula Whitlowe (Chiefswood National Historic Site) and Joyce Majiski and Tuktu Studio in Whitehorse (where Alice spent a week working on At The Water’s Edge) for their support of, and contributions to, this project.
Photographs by Robert McNair 2008
Topographies & Tales is about the relationship between people, language, identity and place, revealing personal stories against the larger picture of how our concept of space and environment is shaped by “belonging” and “nationhood”, and how boundaries, barriers and borders come to be formed.
It has included short films, essays, nine Diffusion eBooks, a Creative Lab in London and events in Dawson City, Canada and is underpinning a new body of work exploring peoples relationship to water called At The Waters Edge.
Topographies and Tales is based around a body of work that Alice Angus has been creating in collaboration with Joyce Majiski exploring the perceptions of landscape and of the North. It is driven by interests in ideas of proximity and remoteness, technology and presence, and the concept of ‘wilderness’ against the lived experience of a place. The works are a personal exploration of the intimate way people form relationships with their environments. They are underpinned by an exploration of how the technologies of travel and communication impact on a sense of time, from the coming of the railroad to the ‘new’ world of data and communications: our perceptions of geography are affected not just by knowledge, but by the way it is mediated. Beginning in the winter of 2001 Alice took the railroad across Canada, from east to west, against the historic flow, creating the film, Near Real Time. Then, in 2003, Alice participated in the first Parks Canada residency in Ivvavik National Park in the Northern Yukon. She began a collaboration there with guide Joyce Majiski which took them to Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorms, Scotland in 2004 and Klondike Institute for Art and Culture in Dawson City, Canada in 2005 for their short film Topographies and Tales 2009.
Topographies and Tales 2009 (12.52 min)
Topographies and Tales, 2009 (excerpts 5.30min)
Using music, oral recordings, drawing, animation and storytelling to playfully unearth local and personal stories, memories and myths against a picture of how concepts of space and environment are shaped by ideas of belonging and home. A personal exploration of the intimate way people form relationships with their environments combining animation and live documentary footage, Topographies and Tales takes a meandering journey through the myths and perceptions the filmmakers encountered on their journeys in the west of Scotland and the Yukon.
Near Real Time By Alice Angus, following the railroad East to West across Canada
Landscapes in Dialogue by Alice Angus, thoughts inspired by the Artists in the Park residency, Ivvavik National Park, Yukon
At The Waters Edge with Joyce Majiski and Alice Angus
The first in a new a series of eBooks growing out of Topographies and Tales. At The Waters Edge are water based investigations exploring different perspectives of what it means to care for the environment and how it can affect the way in which water environments are managed and cared for.
Team: Alice Angus, Giles Lane, Orlagh Woods (2004-09).
Alice Angus presented at Hydrous’08 STS and the ARTS Read Changes in Water Governance” at V2 Institute for Unstable Media in Rotterdam and organised by Katie Vann at the Virtual Knowledge Studio of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Hydrous brought together scientists, anthropolgists, filmakers and artists to look at issues and initiatives in water management and governance around the world looking across a range of issues and areas of conflict and crisis from how small desert communities manage their water source to the governance of large watersheds. Alice brought the first of her new series of eBooks At The Waters Edge to Hydrous and
discussed how her practice and the work of Proboscis finds itself emerging into dialogues around water.